Plains, endless plains, and beyond that, the hazy sprites of distant mountain ranges; the only frame that stopped the rolling grasses from stretching for eternity. It was as if the world had laid itself down before me; there wasn’t another soul in sight to share in this overwhelming sense of limitless isolation. My eyes followed as far as they could, searching for that distant point where the grasses met the mountains, and where in turn those dark and distant peaks morphed into the clearest, most unlimited sky I had ever seen. It enveloped everything in a way no sky had ever done for me before, for here seemed to me the place where the infinity of space was reproduced on Earth.
Although I had never been to the Serengeti before, it felt to me a homecoming; a place still primal, where life existed unrestrained; it was a wild earth; a place of equilibrium where man still feared nature, and nature feared man. It was as if every place I’d been in the world, and every path I’d followed, had been only a means to arrive in this expanse, at this exact instant.
Here, in the infinite wilderness, storms could arise in a moment, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky. I waited and watched as the tanzanite sky grew quickly volatile. All blue disappeared, replaced by a swathe of grey and black, heralded by heavy falling rain. I upturned my face and let it take the beating; liberated. The rain here, at what felt the beginning of the Earth, washed away all else.
Lightning cracked a dead and broken tree some way off, answered by the rolling of sullen thunder. I watched the arc strike downwards at unreal pace, awed by its power; I wondered how long that tree might have stood there, and how many times it had endured this judgement. The storm rose and rose and the rain beat harder, the sky grew darker and the mighty flashes of lightning seemed brighter than before. I held my ground and watched, along with a thousand others, for every animal in sight seemed fixated by such savage power.
As fast as it had come the storm was gone. What had been minutes felt to me to be hours; the blackened sky was soon diluted back into its ethereal blue shade. No evidence remained to attest for this exhibition of unbridled, natural fury that seems at time so stolen from the Earth; nothing except for my memories, and the dead and broken tree.
I wrote this a while ago, when I was a whole year younger than I am now; that might sound arbitrary, but it feels both a lifetime and an age ago. Thought I’d post it here just because. Just because I’m lying in bed missing Africa, basically. The other day, I went to the beach in the middle of a storm and felt intense emotion; reading this again, it was a similar feeling here, I just wasn’t old enough, or in any head space that allowed me, to refine what thoughts it was that were actually being invoked.
That was last year. Last year was a bad year.